What are existing disruptive innovations

What is a disruptive innovation?

The concept of disruptive innovation seems to go back to Prof. Clayton M. Christensen (Harvard Business School) and his 1995 book "The Innovators Dilemma" or the specialist article "Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave". The term is used to distinguish it from incremental innovation. Sometimes a distinction is made between revolutionary and evolutionary innovation.

In incremental / evolutionary innovation, an existing technology or product is improved, more efficient or cheaper. Most of the time a few more requirements are met, a few new properties are added.

Disruptive innovation means one that changes the rules of the game on the market or in user behavior. Interestingly enough, the disruption is sometimes not triggered by really new, but rather well-known techniques. The invention of the MP3 format itself, for example, has not yet triggered a disruption; it was only its use in the context of the functionality and user-friendliness of the iPod that helped the format become a practical standard. And Henry Ford ("If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses") did not invent the car, but introduced it to inexpensive mass production (unassigned quote: "We deliver cars in every color. As long as they are black is "). Only then has our world changed radically.

Apple is a good example of how disruptive innovations create new markets and change the rules of the game, although the initial products are sometimes less able to do this than similar existing products (no exchangeable batteries, no memory expansion options, no flash support, etc.). Instead, other properties are added, often excellent usability or ingenious recombination of what is already there, with which new target groups and new applications can be opened up.

For some years now, Design Thinking has been traded as a method with which disruptive innovations can be systematically produced or at least become more likely. There are now some design thinking courses, for example at Stanford University, at the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam and at the University of St. Gallen. Investors like Lars Hinrichs (HackFwd, Xing founder) swear by design thinking, and design thinking is part of the standard repertoire in beta houses and other startup contexts.

I provided a short introduction to Design Thinking as a short video at Vimeo.

Bernd Oestereich

Oestereich is the founder and managing director of oose Innovative Informatik GmbH, author of numerous, partly internationally published and award-winning book and magazine publications.

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